Croatia - Politics

Politics

Croatia is a unitary democratic parliamentary republic. With the collapse of the ruling communist party in SFR Yugoslavia, Croatia adopted its present constitution in 1990 and organised its first multi-party elections. It declared independence on 8 October 1991 leading to the breakup of Yugoslavia and the country was internationally recognised by the United Nations in 1992. Under its 1990 constitution, Croatia operated a semi-presidential system until 2000 when it switched to a parliamentary system. Government powers in Croatia are divided into legislative, executive and judiciary powers. The legal system of Croatia is civil law, strongly influenced, as is the institutional framework, by the legal heritage of Austria-Hungary. By the time EU accession negotiations were completed on 30 June 2010, Croatian legislation was fully harmonised with the Community acquis.

The President of the Republic (Croatian: Predsjednik Republike) is the head of state, directly elected to a five-year term and is limited by the Constitution to a maximum of two terms. In addition to being the commander in chief of the armed forces, the president has the procedural duty of appointing the prime minister with the consent of the parliament, and has some influence on foreign policy. The most recent presidential elections were held on 10 January 2010, when Ivo Josipović won. He took the oath of office on 18 February 2010.

The government (Croatian: Vlada) is headed by the prime minister, who has four deputy prime ministers and 17 ministers in charge of particular sectors of activity. The executive branch is responsible for proposing legislation and a budget, executing the laws, and guiding the foreign and internal policies of the republic. Government's official residence is at Banski dvori. Since 23 December 2011, the prime minister of the government has been Zoran Milanović.

The parliament (Croatian: Sabor) is a unicameral legislative body. A second chamber, the House of Counties, set up in 1993 pursuant to the 1990 Constitution, was abolished in 2001. The number of Sabor members can vary from 100 to 160; they are all elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms. The sessions of the Sabor take place from 15 January to 15 July, and from 15 September to 15 December. The two largest political parties in Croatia are the Croatian Democratic Union and the Social Democratic Party of Croatia.

Croatia has a three-tiered judicial system, made up of the Supreme Court, County courts, and Municipal courts. The Constitutional Court rules on matters regarding the Constitution. In addition there are misdemeanour courts, commercial courts and administrative courts. Law enforcement in Croatia is the responsibility of the Croatian police force, which is under the control of the Ministry of the Interior. In recent years, the force has been undergoing a reform with assistance from international agencies, including the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) since its mission to Croatia began on 18 April 1996.

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